Natalia Cipponeri is a 16-year-old junior at Modesto High School and enrolled in a college preparatory program that requires her to create a project that demonstrates perseverance, teamwork and problem solving. It also has to provide a service to the community.
She decided to incorporate her love of designing clothing and organized a fashion show that raised money for repairs at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3199 building on West Hatch Road.
“It seemed like a worthy cause, and I wanted to do something local,” Cipponeri said.
She read a July 23 article in The Modesto Bee about the parking lot at the VFW Post 3199, which is 37,000 square feet of crumbling asphalt riddled with large potholes. The lot plagues veterans who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches, and giving it proper paving and painting has been a long-term goal.
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Cipponeri also learned that the VFW Post 3199 funds scholarships for Modesto Junior College students each year. So she wanted to help out. The parking lot repairs were estimated at more than $116,000. She said her event will not fund all the repair costs, but she hopes her effort will help the post leaders reach their own fundraising goals.
Her “Fashion with a Re-Purpose” show was held Sunday afternoon at Galletto Ristorante in downtown Modesto. The total amount raised hadn’t yet been counted, with ticket sales at the door, a silent auction and a raffle, but Cipponeri said they had already collected about $1,500 in sponsorships for the event.
At the show, Cipponeri showcased her re-purposed clothing designs, or as she calls it “sustainable fashion wear.” She takes other people’s castoffs from friends or thrift stores and gives them new life. For instance, she made alterations to a T-shirt to turn it into a vest. She also used a sash to turn a maxiskirt into a dress for one of her friends.
Cipponeri wants others to consider using their own creativity in revitalizing their old wardrobe, instead of heading to the nearest department store. “I want to inspire them into making something of their own,” she said.
She says her designs are affordable quality clothing, because none of the outfits costs more than $10 to make.
With the help of her mother and friends from school, Cipponeri worked hard to put together the event over the past few months. She said her older sister had organized a fashion show before, but it wasn’t as large as Sunday’s event.
Cipponeri is enrolled in Modesto High’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, a college prep program with rigorous education based on global perspectives. The program’s Creativity Action Service project is designed to challenge students.
Putting together the fundraiser was challenging, Cipponeri said, but it also was enjoyable to work with a team on an effort she hopes will lead into a career as a fashion designer.
“I figured, why not do something I love,” she said about creating the fashion show. “I want to work in the fashion industry; this is a nice start.”
Rosalio Ahumada: 209-578-2394